As the facilities manager for a building you sometimes get caught in the unenviable position of having to balance the highest standards of security and access control with the pressure to keep utilities costs down. And the way buildings have typically operated hasn’t made that easy.
Power usage and availability for many buildings is based on schedules. The power is on during the time when a building sees the most use. But that kind of thinking doesn’t make sense for today’s workers or students. Today, schedules are flexible and individuals may want access to an office or an educational facility at any time—day or night. However, it really doesn’t make sense to have all building systems running at full throttle when only a room or two needs power. That’s a waste of energy (and money), and as the facilities manager, you know the pressure will be on you to do something about it.
At the same time, there is increasing pressure to ensure the safety and security of workers or students using the facility during those off-peak hours. Increasing numbers of employers and higher education facilities are moving to a system that only allows building access to approved occupants with specially coded access cards or fobs that identify the cardholder during restricted, or off-peak hours. In addition to providing safety for the building’s occupants, these cards can be encoded to turn on systems such as lighting and HVAC controls for the specific area in which they’ll be working.
In addition to providing safety and comfort for approved occupants, these cards can also keep unauthorized personnel out of restricted areas. That means workers or students won’t be able to get into areas where they could be injured—or where confidential/proprietary information is stored.
This kind of flexible-but-secure system control can also be used in laboratories or medical offices where professionals may need access at any hour—or where maintenance workers and cleaning crews need to get in to work, but shouldn’t have access to certain areas. In some situations, access may be able to be achieved via an app on a smart phone—with personalized data that is specific to each individual.
The Miami Country Commissioners office addressed this kind of a situation (using one system across nine separate government building locations)—to improve efficiency and reduce cost. Enervise control integrators worked with the architect, the engineer, and the mechanical contractors to integrate access controls to assure safety and security across a widespread network of buildings.
Balancing safety, security, and energy efficiency is something facilities managers are being challenged to do on a frequent basis. It’s something more of them are bringing to the attention of building owners as these owners make upgrades and improvements to their facilities. As a facilities manager, you can help your building owner see how improved security and energy efficiency can be combined with the right solution.